A “not so hot” reception to mighty Google’s +1
As “Search” goes “Social” and the fundamental fabric of Internet changes from a information democracy to social discoveries, Google has found itself behind the Facebooks and the Foursquares of the world. Especially because, Google’s other attempts at social networking — Buzz, Wave, orkut — have been largely written off as failures in the tech world.Google has a reputation for being far better with machine learning and algorithms than with leveraging friendships and social networks. Google provides information based on what’s statistically relevant. By contrast, Facebook surfaces info that people’s friends have handpicked or recommended as interesting.
Google has now fired its first salvo at social search, called “+1,” which is Google’s answer to the Facebook “Like” button. +1 is a digital abbreviation of “Thats cool”. The +1 feature, however, could be Google’s shot at social redemption. This, then is the most awaited and highly anticipated “social layer” on top of Google’s computer search. Google believes that including +1 recommendations on ads will boost the rates at which people click on them. Eventually, Google plans to let third-party websites feature +1 buttons directly on their own pages, the company said. The ability to +1 ads and for that endorsment to appear on ads on websites other than Google’s is key.
Microsoft’s search engine Bing has Facebook integration and Google’s “+1” is their attempt to infiltrate the social space. Google has presently the enabled the use of +1 to its US users only!
Whats Good about this move
This move essentially, could unify Google’s attempts at integrating personal recommendations into its computery search results.Google’s repertoire of search is so exhaustive that if Google should get its social layer atop its search it would actually be a a multiplier.
Profiling +1s demographically can also produce an advertising tool allowing brands to target “niche audiences through specific content types”.
Weaknesses: Google still doesnot have all the answers
For starters, +1 leverages the Google profile and Google friends or Social Circle.
Of the 600 million Facebook population, most of the users actually pretty well who their friends at Facebook are. Google Friends — or the “social circle,” as this group is sometimes called — come from a strange “amalgam” of online networks, including Gmail contacts, Google Talk and people who are connected to your Google Profile through services such as Twitter. The result is confusing. There’s no sense of community or real social interaction and currently the Google Profile is some distance off from a “Facebook” like profile page.
The Profile feature has not matured fully. (Well yes, Google has not mastered profiles).The sites that users have +1ed (Google is trying to make it a verb) show up on this profile page, which is public by default. This ends up looking something like a cross between a bookmark site and a stripped-down “news feed.”
Thirdly, +1 is not the “verb” that Google wants to make it…yet. Very few people are actually using the service that the experience is a bit quiet, dull and not all that fulfilling.
Unlike Twitter trends, +1 skips global aggregation of curated +1 content for everyone to see. Yes, you could view all the collected +1’s of a particular user on their Profile +1 tab, but again, that page has to be shared before you can see it.
In its current form, Google +1 is not about conversation or, really, interaction with other people. It’s about finding good stuff. By itself, it’s not a social network and barely a social tool. There is nothing wrong with this small and relatively cautious step by Google. +1 is probably a piece of a much bigger social and content-curation puzzle. However to truly compete with Facebook, Google will have to transform Google Profile pages into a destination that brings together all its tools: mail, photos, video, messaging, search results, and sharing into a cohesive page where people want to spend their time.
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